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The Only Road

(The Only Road #1)

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  1,387 ratings  ·  279 reviews
Jaime is sitting on his bed drawing when he hears a scream. Instantly, he knows: Miguel, his cousin and best friend, is dead.

Everyone in Jaime’s small town in Guatemala knows someone who has been killed by the Alphas, a powerful gang that’s known for violence and drug trafficking. Anyone who refuses to work for them is hurt or killed—like Miguel. With Miguel gone, Jaime fe
320 pages
Published October 4th 2016 by Paula Wiseman Books / Simon & Schuster
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Mayra I guess the reason for the hopeful ending is that the book is aimed maybe at 5th grade and up.

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Average rating 4.28  · 
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 ·  1,387 ratings  ·  279 reviews

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Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it

'The Only Road' was such a hard book to put down. The story follows a Guatemalan boy and girl on their journey through Mexico to New Mexico, USA. After Jaime gets sick and can't make it to school, his cousin Miguel gets approached by the local gang to "do them a favor." Miguel rejects this and he gets shot down in broad daylight. Jaime knows he is next and maybe his cousin Angela also, Miguel's sister. Jaime and Angela's families get money together to help them leave Guatemala forever, instea
Intense and heartbreaking and thought provoking. Anyone who approves of the current round of massive deportations of undocumented immigrants should read this to understand a little of why people from Mexico and South and Central America choose to come to the U.S. illegally and what they go through just to get here.

This was ostensibly written for kids, but I think it would be a great book to read and discuss as a family or even for a community read.
Book Concierge
Digital audiobook performed by Ramon de Ocampo.
5***** and a ❤

Twelve-year-old Jaime and his fifteen-year-old cousin, Angela, are forced to flee their Guatemalan village due to the Alpha gang’s terrorizing families in their area. Their families make the heart-wrenching decision to send the youngsters to America to live with Jaime’s older brother after Angela’s brother is killed by the gang for refusing to join. The novel details their harrowing journey through Mexico, where they encounter other ga
Alex  Baugh
Mar 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
After his cousin Miguel is beaten to death by a gang called the Alphas for refusing to join them, Jaime, 12, and Miguel’s sister Ángela, 15, receive a note from the gang instructing them to show up a a certain place in six days. Though the note doesn’t say it, both children know that they will meet the same fate as Miguel if they aren’t there.

The Alphas are a powerful gang of young people dealing in drugs and death, and even the drug addicted police chief is unable to do anything about their rei
Ms. Stephens
I didn't read the whole thing - I really wanted to like it because immigration is such an important current issue, and kids would understand it better if they could put themselves into a Central American immigrant's shoes through fiction. However, this book just didn't meet my literary standards: too much tell, not show. I kept reading because I kept hoping... and it was a fine story... I'll keep hoping that something amazing comes out on this same topic within the next year or two. (Surely some ...more
Linda George
Jul 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful story about two children who leave Guatemala in the middle of the night to escape the drugs and gangs to make a new life in America.
Sep 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book broke my heart. But it is such an important read. The author kept up constant tension throughout. So much so that I had a stomach ache while reading one night.
Renee Hall
Jun 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes you read a book that's grounded in a real-life situation, and it does such an incredible, powerful job of putting you in those characters' shoes -- of making you realize that yes, people go through this, children go through this -- that you wish you could somehow get everyone in the country to read it. It feels that true, and that important.

This is one of those books. I believe it's listed as middle grade as far as age is concerned; ignore that. Adults will get as much out of it (maybe
Garrett Gaudin
I think that this was a very good book that has lots of meaning and really gives you a look inside what it would be like to immigrate. Although they are only immigrating to Mexico from Guatemala that seems even worse. In my opinion if you want to read a book that really lets you see what it would be like to immigrate then read The Only Road. I would easily give this book a 5/5 stars.
Sep 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book! Audiobooks was nicely done. One of the best books I’ve read since Refugee by Alan Gratz.
Apr 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: juvenile, poc
This book tells a very important story, one that needs to be told, and shared, and widely read — which made it all the more disappointing that it honestly wasn't very good. The plot was compelling, but the characters were one-dimensional. There was some lip service paid to Jaime's growth as a character, his learning to take initiative and responsibility, but it was much more told than actually shown. And the writing was just bad: muddled sentences, awkward phrasing, and just a lot of sloppy word ...more
Dec 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Alphas run Jaime's small Guatemalan town, and everyone is right to be afraid of them. When Jaime's cousin Miguel is killed by them, and then Jaime and Miguel's sister Angela are "invited" to join, their parents scrap together as much money as possible and send them north. Jaime's older brother Tomas is working in New Mexico, and their only hope for a life worth living is to make it to him. But this means crossing two borders and the entire country of Mexico on their own. This is a harrowing ...more
Sara-Zoe Patterson
Wow. This is so well done, and so significant to our social conversations. This is definitely more middle school, but I'm wishing it could be for my kids. Having some frame of reference to talk about the challenge of Central American kids trying to come to the US, and why their families feel/need to send them, and to do it in a really readable, really interesting story is fantastic. Here's to more books that give us such experiences.
A pretty wonderful story about the terrible choices some kids need to make, in this case, to leave their homes and families to get away from vicious gangs who would otherwise force them into virtual slavery. There is a happy ending but that doesn't make the situation better for the next kid racing to a train, risking death and dismemberment to try to cross the border into the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.
A very timely, but heavy book about a 12-year-old boy and 15-year-old girl escaping gang violence in Guatemala by trying to get to the United States.
Wendy Recinos
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wow-books
The Only Road written by Alexandra Diaz was a book I knew I had to include in my collection of WOW books after reading. It's no wonder that this book has received countless awards. Ideally, I would have this book in a fifth-grade class. This realistic fiction book covers immigrant themes as it takes a look at how the journey to the U.S. from a third world country can be a treacherous and demanding one. Jamie is a twelve-year-old who lives in a small town in Guatemala. This town is ruled by a pow ...more
Ryan Cinfel
The this book, I chose a collage of images that show important facts or information about events and characters in the book. I believe that a collage would be fitting for this book based on the main character's (Jaime) use of art and sketches throughout. I made a collage of images using the Pages app on an iPad and attached the image of it to my Canvas assignment submission. Using art in book responses allows students to express their knowledge of the book through artistic intelligence and seque ...more
Caurie Kuzelka
So I picked number 7 on the list of alternatives to book reports which is "Describe the culture or ethnic setting as presented in your book as compared to your life." I chose this because while I was reading this book I just felt so much empathy for the main character, Jaime, because I knew that I have never and will most likely never experience the hardships and situations that Jaime had to go through. I chose this too because Donalyn Miller expresses her stance on peer suggestions and letting ...more
Feb 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
When Miguel dies, Jaime and Angela’s family finds a way to save them from the gang violence and drug trafficking that was responsible for Miguel’s death. This means saying goodbye to home and everything that is familiar to them, making a difficult and dangerous journey from Guatemala, through Mexico and into the United States to join Jamie’s brother Tomas. From their experiences in refugee shelters, stowing away on trains, confrontations with la migra, and walking through a desert, it
Jul 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
I am really glad that I read this book. I haven't read much middle grade since being in middle school myself and this one definitely did not disappoint. After working in a school with many children who were new to the states, it was frightening and heartbreaking to learn about how they might have arrived in front of me. The ending felt a bit easy, which considering this is a middle grade novel and the amount of heartbreak throughout, I can forgive it to an extent but woah they sure did make it a ...more
Apr 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book where you get really attached to the characters. When bad things happen to them it makes you scared or sad. In this book two kids(later joined by others) need to escape their hometown in Guatemala because of gangs there that are trying to kill them. The book takes you through a journey with many hadships that these kids have to endure. They must make it to the US. to live with their bother/cousin, but in order to do that they must not get caught. I really like the moment on one of ...more
Brianne Honda
May 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
After Jaime’s cousin and best friend, Miguel, is murdered by The Alphas, an infamous gang in Guatemala, for refusing to join them, the Alphas recruit Jaime and his cousin, Angela, to join next. Jaime and Angela have two choices: join the Alphas or escape to the United States to live with Jaime’s brother in New Mexico. They decide that their best chance of living the life they want is to cross the border illegally to the US. Their families gather all the money they can and sew it in Jaime’s waist ...more
Ms. K
Apr 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
It took me a while to read this honestly because it's such a serious topic - and everything in real life is so serious right now. So I needed to take breaks (and read some adult fluffy books that were less serious). But it was just excellent. I can't wait to read the sequel, which is coming out. Living through the really difficult journey from Central America into the US with Jamie was incredibly emotional, and it gave me a lot of empathy for why people immigrate and how difficult that can be to ...more
Jan 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
5 ★

this was a very enlightening read, i would say. even though it’s a middle grade (?) novel, i felt like i really learned a lot about what people face as they immigrate to the united states. obviously this just skimmed the surface, but it was very interesting to read about.

the characters felt real and relatable, despite us being from completely different backgrounds. something that was also portrayed in this book was the lack of options the characters had. like, jaime and ángela had literally
Dee Kohler
Jan 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Harrowing story of two children trying to immigrate from Guatemala on their own. To escape gangs and threats of violence in their homeland Jaime and Angela set off on a journey through Mexico to their brothers home in the U.S. Along the way they find danger at nearly every turn but they also find compassion and kindness from strangers along this perilous road. Six grade and up.
Megan Nason
Jan 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Although, the book was hard to get into and in the beginning was boring I kept reading it and I'm glad I did. It showed the ups and downs of a treacherous journey that two relatable kids went through. I really enjoyed that the author wasn't afraid to add the true emotions of the characters even if they were a bit raw. Overall a good read.
Deunara Silva-Hewage

Jan 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Riveting story of two teens on a perilous journey. While fictional, this story is based on real events happening today. A must read for anyone interested in immigration issues.
Amanda Vail
Sep 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A heartbreaking and eye opening read, for young adults and grownups alike. I’d encourage anyone wondering about our current border crisis to read this beautifully written book.
Donald Berrigan
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wow
Some books start with an intention that seems to break your heart and draw you in from the first sentence. “The Only Road” by Alexandra Diaz is a story of two young adults who have to grow up too soon. They come from a path of violence into what they can only hope is a new world that is better; a dream of America that has brought people to this country throughout our shared history. This book exemplifies the promise and dream of a new life that is somehow inexplicably worth hoping for and is tru ...more
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